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a publication of the
United Church of Christ
Vol. XXIV, No. 6

No longer a stranger
December | January 2009
Two Sections | Section A

inside Christmas calls us to welcome the exile in our midst.

3 A

Project raises awareness,
challenges new President.

6 A

Holy Joe's ministry of coffee
and welcome.

11 A

Paralysis won't slow down
this Conference Minister.

13 A

Coloring outside the lines in
faith exploration. Rich Bogart graphic

homepage from the collegium | shorthand

The UCC Physicians Network is seeking the input of physicians

our only hope

who find their spiritual home in the UCC. The Network was organized
several years ago to provide opportunities for physicians to work
together in addressing issues of mutual interest and concern, and
to meet some of the unique spiritual needs of physicians who are
part of the UCC.
very year, as Advent

E draws closer, my yearning
for the Advent/Christmas
message and meaning in-
Since last we gathered with
On June 26, 2007, General Synod 26, meeting in Hartford,
Conn., passed a resolution calling for churchwide study on “Le-
galization of Physician Aid in Dying”: <
physician-aid-in-dying-final.pdf>. Justice and Witness Ministries
has been asked to assemble a report based on this resolution to be
presented to GS 27 in 2009.
provided outstanding ministry in a parish or other church related institu-
tions, including women in specialized ministry; and have a sensitivity
concerning the challenges and possibilities of women in ministry and
the shepherds in Bethlehem, lis- UCC physicians interested in contributing to this report are urged advocacy on behalf of all women in the church.
tened to the angel choirs, and to contact chairperson Larry Smith, UCC Physicians Network; phone Nominating forms were included in the November all -church mail-
marveled at the child in Mary’s 717/542-3402; e-mail <> or Barbara T. Baylor, ing packet sent to UCC local churches, Conferences and Associations.
Forms are also available online at <>. Nominations will
arms, much has happened to us. UCC minister for health care justice, phone 216-736-3720; e-mail
<>. be accepted through Dec. 31, 2008.
Steve Sterner Not all of it has been pleasant.
The award, first presented at General Synod 10, is named for
Tragedy has come from na- the Rev. Antoinette Brown (1825-1921), the first woman ordained to
ture and of human origin too. INSURANCE BOARD ISSUES NEW CALENDARS
The UCC Insurance Board has introduced its first ever loss ministry in the U.S. A selection committee comprising representatives
Dreams have been deferred, if not from the four Covenanted Ministries, the Council of Conference Minis-
prevention calendar to participating churches. The 2009 calendar,
shattered, by economic whirlwinds. The guns of war are ters, and a former Antoinette Brown recipient, will consider nominees
whose theme “52 Weeks/52 Ways We Care About Your Church,”
silenced only by our blocking out their long running fusil- for selection.
provides a unique tip each week aimed at reducing a church’s risk
lades. of incurring some type of loss. All 2,400 IB participants will receive
There is never a time when the hope of the Advent sea- a calendar. NY CONFERENCE ISSUES 'BICYCLE CHALLENGE'
son is not relevant for us, but this year it is a season that The IB produced the calendar “in an effort to reduce the disrup- The New York Conference is organizing a group that will travel by
seems to be coming just in time. This year I almost feel like tive impact to our churches’ ministries that comes from losses and bicycle June 12-26, 2009, from Syracuse to Grand Rapids, Mich. Rid-
a castaway clinging to the last piece of wreckage in hope, claims,” says Cathy Green, UCC Insurance Board CEO and presi- ers will raise money for a new fund established by the Conference to
almost vain hope, of rescue. dent. “The more value-added services and products that we can offer help churches in their “green” efforts. Cyclists will stay with local UCC
But then it comes. The familiar texts are dusted off. from a prevention standpoint, the less likelihood our churches have congregations on this journey through four states and Conferences.
The focus begins to shift. of sustaining an interruption in their services,” Green continues, “We The “bicycle challenge” invites others across the church to bike (or
walk) to General Synod. Those who can’t travel to Grand Rapids by
This year Psalm 80 calls us to our first Advent wor- take that responsibility seriously.”
Participants will receive advice about everything from preventing human-powered means are encouraged to choose travel methods that
ship. It holds a verse
slips, trips and falls to thwarting would-be arsonists. Many of the tips use less fossil fuel and produce fewer greenhouse gases.
repeated three times: A release from the New York Conference says, “Together can we
“God, bring us back, The way to our salvation refer readers back to checklists that can be found on the UCCIB’s
website <>. For more information or additional become a symbol of Christians’ love and care for God’s creation.”
let your face shine
is to embrace the world copies, please contact Elizabeth Vance, UCCIB marketing coordina- The churchwide effort will draw public attention to North America’s
on us and we will be disproportionate fuel consumption and its negative environmental im-
tor, at 216/736-3243 or <>.
safe.” of God’s alternative pact. With less than five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. is
We are reminded imagination. NOMINATIONS SOUGHT FOR WOMEN'S AWARD the world’s oil-thirstiest nation, using more than 25 percent of the world’s
that our salvation The UCC’s Ministry for Women’s Concerns is seeking nomina- annual oil production.
will not come from tions for the 2009 Antoinette Brown award to be granted at General Contact the Rev. Michael Caine, New York Regional Conference
our work or our Synod 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Minister, <> or Catherine Rolling, UCC Minister for
ways. The travails of Women nominated need to hold ordained ministerial standing Environmental Justice, <> for more information on this
markets and the trumpeting of nations will not redeem us. in the UCC. The award is given to two recipients who exemplify the ride, to organize your own group, or to let them know who from your
There is hope because we are not our only hope. There contributions that women can make through ordained ministry; have Conference will be traveling by bike.
is God. And God is ready to welcome us again.
The light that even now begins to pierce its way through
THE REV. J. BENNETT GUESS Publisher The fall meetings of the four Covenanted Ministry boards, and the
the darkness of our despair is the face of God again visible
Executive Council, have all resulted in votes to proceed with the formation
to our hearts and in our minds. THE REV. GREGG BREKKE Editor
of a single United Church Board (UCB) that will govern the UCC.
This is no ordinary hope. It is not founded on just get- THE REV. W. EVAN GOLDER Editor Emeritus
Their approval sets in motion the next phase of the Governance
ting strength to go out and face the world all over again. RANDY VARCHO Design Editor Formation Team II (GFT-II) plan for ministry oversight in which the chairs
It is a call to hear the proclamation of God’s alternative to CONNIE LARKMAN Advertising Manager and vice-chairs of each board, and the Executive Council, will meet with
our reality. BARB POWELL Business Manager their counterparts in January 2009 to reconcile, if possible, any differ-
Mary sings about it. Carols proclaim it. The way to DAN HAZARD Web Design Editor
ences in their actions.
our salvation is to embrace the world of God’s alternative Among the differences that must be resolved by this group is rep-
UNITED CHURCH NEWS (USPS 0764-070) is published bi-monthly by
imagination. the Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry, Office of General
resentation in the UCB from the Council for Racial and Ethnic Ministries
That world is built on hope, not on fear. Ministries, United Church of Christ, for members of the United Church of (COREM). A recommendation from the Justice and Witness Ministries
It is defined by courageous compassion and joyful jus- Christ. United Church News is a member of Associated Church Press and board proposes additional representation from each of the five COREM
the Religion Communicators Council. United Church News encourages the bodies. This motion would raise their representation from two to three
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So, over the next few weeks, as we renew the rituals and send the editor a copy. Periodicals postage rates paid at Cleveland, members each, resulting in a UCB size of 90-93 instead of 85-88.
Ohio, and additional mailing offices. Non-GFT-II actions by two boards also affirmed the continuation of
and read again the great texts of Jesus’ nativity, my prayers
their leadership, nominating the Rev. Stephen Sterner (Local Church
will be with you. My hopes will be restored with yours. POSTMASTER Send address changes to United Church News, P.O. Box
226625, Dallas, TX 75222-6625. Ministries) and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo (Justice and Witness Ministries)
May this be a season when you let God bring you back, to renewed terms as executive ministers of their respective Covenanted
back to the hope and promise of a just and peaceful world, EDITORIAL OFFICES are located at 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH
44115-1100. Telephone 1-866-822-8224 ext. 2177; fax 216/736-2223; e- Ministries. These nominations will be presented for approval by the
the only world in which we will ever be truly safe. mail <>; web <>. Editorial opinions are not General Synod meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., next June.
O come, O come, Emmanuel! necessarily those of the official bodies of the United Church of Christ.

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national | breaking news headlines


‘Tents of Hope’ pitched as reminder of Darfur genocide

ver 300 colorfully painted refugee tents were erected on the Tents of Hope and a member of Pet-

O National Mall in Washington, D.C., the weekend of Nov. 7-9 to call

attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
The “Gathering of the Tents” was the culminating event of the year-
aluma (Calif.) UCC.
He continued, “At the local
level, the Tents of Hope campaign
worked so well because our na-
tional steering committee trusted
long Tents of Hope campaign, included speakers, panel discussions, local clergy and laity to reach out in
workshops, music and displays. The campaign, which urges President- their communities to involve other
elect Obama to put ending the Darfur genocide at the top of his agenda congregations, schools and civic
in 2009, included participants from 360 cities in 48 states. Nonn expressed his belief that
Among the speakers was Al- people knew about it.” McCal- local communities called together
Ghali Yahya Shegifat, president of lum decided he needed to educate in compassion were at the heart
the Association of Darfur Journal- people about the genocide saying, of the program’s success. “We all
ists. In May 2008, he was arrested “That is the only way there will be learned together to trust in a God of
and brutally tortured for several any change.” hope who is present among the Dar-
months by the Sudanese govern- Seeing the array of tents dis- furi people and in our efforts to help Tents of Hope from around the country are displayed on the National Mall in front of the
ment. An international campaign, played on the National Mall was them. We can apply this important U.S. Capitol building. Gary Jean photo
led by Amnesty USA and Interna- encouraging for McCallum; but he lesson to many hopeless situations
tional PEN, helped to secure his is convinced there is much more in our broken and suffering world.
release. Mr. Shegifat, who is cur-
rently seeking political asylum in
work to do. “One thing that moti-
vates me is seeing the pictures that
God is always present with us,” he
said. UCC minister offers to die
for death row inmate
the United States, spoke at several children in the refugee camps have More than 5 million Darfuris
events during the weekend. drawn,” he said. “Their drawings are dependent on international re-
UCC Wider Church Ministries show blood and death and destruc- lief operations. But the World Food By Jeff Woodard
staff members Susan Sanders and tion. I want to make it so their life Program and other relief organiza- “There is an apparent lack of any
Derek Duncan, along with youth isn’t like that.” tions have suspended operations in physical evidence connecting Troy
he peaceful tone of the Rev.
delegates from Pilgrim UCC in
Cleveland, attended the Washing-
ton event.
Danny McCallum, a seventh
McCallum believes the experi-
ence of being on the team that orga-
nized his faith community to action
has been a valuable one. “I know
parts of Darfur due to government
attacks on relief convoys and UN
camps. Some relief groups have
been forced to entirely withdraw
T Marvin Morgan’s voice belies the
passion of his message: It’s time
to get “personal” in eliminating the death
Davis to the murder,” says Morgan.
“It’s hard to understand that in the
face of overwhelming doubt, that
a parole board could deny a cry for
grader from Shaker Heights, Ohio, this project has helped me — I’ll be from the country since the Sudanese penalty. Morgan’s willingness to take clemency.”
accompanied the group, and was able to lead in other ways because government stepped up harassment the place of Troy Davis on death row Morgan says he wholeheartedly
one of the youth who raised aware- of it. Whether that is raising funds of relief workers several months in Georgia appears to be the ultimate embraces the death-penalty position
ness of Darfur and support for the or support or getting people togeth- ago. gesture. held by Amnesty International. “It
Tent of Hope sponsored by Pilgrim. er for a cause.” UCC Wider Church/Global “If each of us were to be placed is, in every sense, the ultimate denial
“I had heard about Darfur from “The Tents of Hope campaign Ministries and Justice and Witness in shackles and led to the execution of human rights. The audacity of the
my sixth-grade teacher, and then was successful because it used the Ministries, along with the UCC chambers, knowing we are innocent … state to act in a premeditated matter
from Susan Sanders at church,” said decentralized, community-based Central Atlantic Conference, pro- try to imagine what that must be like,”
McCallum. “I realized it was like approach we find in the UCC,” said vided creative and administrative
says Morgan, minister of pastoral care
another Holocaust, and not many Tim Nonn, national coordinator of support to this movement.
and counseling at First Congregational

Philippine pastor released, exonerated

UCC in Atlanta.
On Sept. 22, Morgan and Davis’
etained United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pas- friend, Steve Woodall, hand-deliv-

D tor Berlin Guerrero was ordered released to the custody of his

lawyers Sept. 12, 2008, by the Philippine Court of Appeals. At
the time of his release, Guerrero had been detained for one year, three
ered to the office of Georgia Gov.
Sonny Perdue a letter requesting that
Davis’ execution be prevented. “If
you are not willing to do so,” Mor-
gan wrote, “I, Marvin L. Morgan, do UCC minister the Rev. Marvin Morgan (c.)
months and 15 days. hereby request that you (the State of is arrested by Georgia police.
Guerrero was abducted May gation had been conducted. Along Georgia) take my life instead of that to kill another human being — in an
27, 2007, by elements of the Naval with the illegal seizure, detention of Troy Davis, and allow Troy to be effort to prevent other human beings
Intelligence Security Forces. He and abuse, the court charged re- set free. I am available immediately from being killed — doesn’t make a
was allegedly tortured before be- gional authorities with undue pro- to be taken into custody so that this lot of sense to me. Regardless of the
ing turned over to the Philippine cess, having not given Guerrero request may be carried forward.” method used, it is inhumane, degrad-
National Police. Only then was he sufficient time to prepare a defense Morgan said they were told Per- ing punishment.”
shown a copy of a warrant of arrest against charges. due was unavailable to meet with Since 1977, more than 1,100
for murder charges. Guerrero’s arrest stemmed from them. “We waited until 5 o’clock people have died in executions in
The Court of Appeals began allegations that he participated in a and he still wasn’t there. We refused the U.S., including more than 40 in
hearing petitions filed by Guerrero’s murder in 1992. Court documents to leave and were arrested for tres- Georgia. During that same period,
lawyers, former Sen. Jovito Salonga pointed out that Guerrero had been Guerrero (r.) is shown with the Rev. James passing,” Morgan said, adding that says Morgan, more than 100 have
and Emilio Capulong, after the case living a normal and public life, and Vijayakumar, the UCC's area executive for Perdue never responded to the let-
Southern Asia.
been released from death row on
was remanded to the appellate court carrying out his pastoral duties, ter. But the next day, the 11th Cir- grounds of innocence or new evi-
by the Supreme Court. when the case was revived after 15 clearly constitutes grave abuse of cuit Court of appeals granted Davis dence surfacing.
Court of Appeals Associate Jus- years. discretion that warrants the exercise a stay of execution, his third in the Morgan says he plans to work
tice, Martin Villarama, granted a “The Court cannot condone of this Court’s corrective power,” it past year. with anti-death penalty leaders such
temporary restraining order barring such injustice and travesty of rights said its Sept. 23 ruling. Davis, now 39, was convicted in as the Rev. Timothy McDonald of the
a regional court from proceeding of an ordinary citizen charged with The United Church of Christ 1991 of the August 1989 killing of Concerned Black Clergy of metropol-
with the hearings on the murder case a serious crime during and after in the Philippines is a close inter- Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen itan Atlanta to help save Davis’ life.
and directed government lawyers to preliminary investigation when the national ecumenical partner with MacPhail. Since the trial, seven of “We must keep this issue before the
submit more evidence to justify the information based on an invalid pro- the UCC and the Christian Church nine key prosecution witnesses have public. First one person offers to die,
trial of Guerrero. ceeding had been filed in court. The (Disciples of Christ.) Wider Church recanted their testimony. Others have then 15, then 20.We won’t stop.”
On Sept. 23, the appellate court patent disregard of the laws and rules Ministries works closely with the come forward to implicate another
dismissed all charges against Guer- in the conduct of preliminary inves- UCCP via a Global Ministries part- man in the killing of the 27-year-old Jeff Woodard is a member of Pilgrim Congre-
rero, saying an improper investi- tigation by the investigating Judge nership. MacPhail. gational UCC in Cleveland.

opinion matters commentary | letters | soapbox


Change — not fear — motivates exploration, welcoming spirit
hen we started planning this issue’s the foreigner, exile or stranger no less than the Advent — the arrival — of the Christ. In

W theme, “Welcoming the Exile,” the
world was a very different place.
Although the economy was lean-
ing toward recession, the stock market hadn’t
taken the plunge of early October. The U.S.
17 times.
Fife concludes his comments by asking,
“Can you guess which one is harder? Which
one was more important to Yahweh?”
The truth is, really understanding some-
our churches, the season is full of symbolism
and significance.
A Christmas custom found primarily in
Mexico is the remembrance of Mary and Jo-
seph’s travels to Bethlehem. The celebration
Presidential race was still very much under- one who differs from you is one of the most is known as Las Posadas, Spanish for “the
way — and the major candidates were tied in challenging things we can do. We encounter inns,” which commemorates the hospitality
most national polls. variances of language, culture, ideology and Jesus’ family received as strangers, making
Same-gender families in Connecticut even morality that make understanding one their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
had not yet been given the full privilege of another difficult, or may cause us to recon- At first glance, Las Posadas resembles
marriage. In California, same-gender couples sider our long-entrenched positions. door-to-door caroling. But the tradition cul-
Gregg Brekke
still enjoyed the legal advantages of civic From my own experiences in the UCC, minates with an invitation into the home of an
matrimony. I know our congregations receive exiles in “innkeeper” who has offered to host dinner
News production cycles and story dead- many ways. We may not even name it as such, and a party — an outpouring of hospitality
lines aside, we had to ask ourselves whether but this work happens when we make space and joy that recognizes how difficult it is to
or not this was an appropriate time to focus for an immigrant community to hold a native- be a stranger, foreigner or exile.
'Welcoming the Stranger' ... is on the exile, the stranger, when so much had language service, sponsor the resettlement of The ministry of welcome is engaged
an invitation to enter into the changed in our world since mid-September. a refugee, engage in sacred conversations on throughout this issue, including four “Cen-
The answer to that question was a simple race, offer help to those hit by economic hard terstage” articles that explore the theology
margins of society and culture, yes. No matter what our current economic, times, or hold an open-and-affirming work- and practice of hospitality. In considering
and to encounter those the still political or social outlook — we are called shop. the character of Jesus and his arrival, these
speaking God is calling us to as people of faith to constantly push against Each of these activities, and countless thoughts may inform your perception of what
the rough edges of discomfort that grate at us others, helps us to express God’s extravagant it means to be welcoming.
embrace." when we are forced to encounter those who welcome to those who were once considered And so the theme of “Welcoming the Ex-
differ from us. “outside.” Along the way we recognize a ile” seems as important today as it was two
The Rev. John Fife, co-founder of the double blessing: because the one welcomed, months ago. Yes, the world has changed. But
migrant rights group, No More Deaths, intro- and the one offering welcome, go away with with those changes comes a continued chal-
duces people to the ministry of border jus- their lives changed. lenge to be a welcoming and faithful people.
tice by reminding us that the Hebrew scrip- It is an invitation to enter into the margins of
tures speak of welcoming your neighbor as A Christmas journey society and culture, and to encounter those
yourself only once (Leviticus 19:18). Yet the December marks the beginning of the the still speaking God is calling us to em-
people of Israel are instructed to welcome Christian year and the season of Christmas, brace.

as a country, could survive. As I sat mulling 'Thoroughly Niebuhr' directors, a majority of whom would appear to
in my own depression, I saw your message Regarding the questions of The Seren- be protecting the interests of the bodies they
on television that spoke to my heart about the ity Prayer’s authorship, I have no doubt that it represent.
need for understanding and inclusion. Now, originated with Reinhold Niebuhr. As one who How can Local Church, Justice and Wit-
more than ever, we need to hear that we are studied under him at Union, dined with him in ness, and Wider Church ministries’ staffs be
LETTERS all God’s children. Bless you — you made a the refectory and regularly visited his apartment empowered to develop and enabled to carry out
difference in my life and I’m sure in so many on Friday evening when he had open house for visionary missions under this convoluted and
others. free-for-all discussions, I have a sense of how potentially reactionary arrangement? If this
Tom Stevenson his mind worked.The prayer is thoroughly Nie- plan is adopted, then Article III of the UCC
Praise for ‘Steeples’ ad Austin, Texas buhr. Constitution, “Covenantal Relations,” can be
I am writing with much appreciation and via e-mail It may be that he used it in various forms eliminated as irrelevant.
admiration for the UCC and the Steeples com- through the years, and others may have picked Theodore H. Erickson
mercial. Why not Hawaii? it up and used it. But that prayer, in its original, Laughlintown, Pa.
We celebrated the Steeples ad, and hon- The Rev. Charles Buck’s comments about is Niebuhr!
ored the UCC, during our congregation’s “joys the shift from a Honolulu General Synod in Donald W. Morgan Church and free speech
and concerns” Sunday, Oct. 4. One woman 2011 (“High fuel costs thwart Hawaii location Rocky Hill, Conn. Many appear to be framing the IRS’ posi-
mentioned that she could feel the deep sincerity for 2011 General Synod,” Oct.-Nov. 2008) are Grace is essential tion on non-profit endorsement of candidates as
in the UCC’s welcome, and was warmed when too reserved. I would make one comment on the article an attack on free speech. I believe this is not
she heard a favorite childhood song, “Here I find it difficult to understand why a com- by William G. Chrystal on Reinhold Niebuhr’s only inflammatory, but also incorrect. The non-
is the church, here is the steeple, open the munity so entrenched in the belief of covenant- prayer. The essential word “grace” is missing. profit status of churches and other organizations
doors and see all the people.” al relationships can’t be responsible enough to I believe that Niebuhr wrote, “God grant is not a right, it is a privilege granted by the
I especially like that the “whoever you budget appropriately for a bigger event such as me the grace to accept with serenity...” For a government through the tax code. If churches
are, wherever you are...” expression is in the a Synod in Hawaii, especially, given more than Christian theologian of Niebuhr’s thinking, wish to be able to endorse candidates all they
ad. We repeat that extravagant welcome every three years to plan for it. God’s grace is more essential than the human’s need do is relinquish the privilege of their tax
Sunday during our services. It is my favorite It seems to me the Hawaii UCC Confer- inclination. exemption.
of the many ways our church is weaving the ence has to plan for trips overseas every Gen- Readers may be interested in Elisabeth Sift- Betsy Latham
“Steeples” themes of an extravagant welcome eral Synod, every National Youth Event and on’s book “The Serenity Prayer” as a reference. Groveland, Mass.
and inclusion into our spiritual practices. every other opportunity that exists within the Ed Schneider via e-mail
We want to thank the UCC, everyone in- greater event offerings of the UCC. Pleasant Hill, Tenn.
volved and everyone who supported the “Stee- I plan on going to Hawaii for General Syn- via e-mail
ples” project. Thank you for showing everyone od 28, even if it’s back on the mainland. I am [CORRECTION: The image in J. Martin Bailey’s article on
just how wide the UCC and its churches open going to support the Hawaiian UCC family I Combined board concerns Charles McCollough, “Pastor, artist sculpts his retirement
their arms to... all the people! have come to know and love, from Honolulu Contributors to the UCC’s general fund with purpose and pleasure,” Oct.-Nov. 2008, received an
Denise Leboeuf to our Big Island friends at First United Prot- should be concerned about the proposed United incorrect caption. The sculpture pictured is titled “Hagar
Haydenville (Mass.) Congregational UCC estant UCC in Hilo and South Kohala UCC in Church Board (UCB). Since the inception of and Ishmael’s Expulsion.” The work will be dedicated Feb.
Hokuloa. the UCC, directors of particular instrumentali- 4, 2009, at Drew University.]
In troubling times — hope For all their previous efforts to get to the ties or covenanted ministries were people com-
As it is was for so many of us, the news of mainland, they deserve better than this mitted to furthering the interests of the bodies SEND LETTERS of fewer than 150 words to United
this week’s economic collapse has been hard. The Rev. Greg Larsen they oversaw. Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115;
I came home so desperate looking for answers Christ Congregational UCC Under the proposed UCB, all of the func- e-mail <guessb@>. Please note that letters may
and wondering how we, both individually and Fort Morgan, Colo. tional ministries will be overseen by the same be edited for brevity and clarity.

commentary | letters | soapbox opinion matters

Thomas pens letters to Obama and McCain
Dear President-Elect Obama: During the days preceding the election I was in South Africa
meeting with church leaders from around the world. Interest in
s General Minister and President your candidacy was dramatic, reminding us both of the historic
A of your United Church of Christ,
I write to congratulate you on
your election as the next President of
nature of your election as a man who is, in part, a son of Africa,
but also of the reality that America has a remarkable capacity
to shape the world for good or ill. Two hundred years ago your OVERHEARD
the United States. As a church that forebears in the United Church of Christ established the first for-
celebrates the vocation of public ser- eign mission agency in the United States and, since that time, we
vice as an honored way to express and have nurtured a global perspective that listens with deep respect
embody one’s faith, we are grateful and care to the hopes and concerns of church partners around the
John Thomas for your willingness to take on the de- The media didn’t care about the whole sermon and
mands of this unique office and pledge what it was about. They just used those 10 seconds
our prayers as you seek to use that of- Thomas’ letter to Sen. John McCain is available online: and used it as a weapon of mass destruction against
fice for the common good. The agenda [Obama’s] campaign.”
before us is daunting. Among them are poverty, the environment, <>
— The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity UCC in
and a just and peaceful global community.
Chicago, speaking at a forum on “The Bible, Race and American
The global economic crisis presents you with an immediate
and urgent challenge. While needing to address the problems of world. Shortly before his death Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote History” on Nov. 7, 2008, in Milford, Conn. These were Wright's
financial institutions as well as the deep anxieties on Main Street, that we live in a “world house,” and warned us that we face the first public comments since his falling-out with Sen. Obama after
members of our church would also urge you to give attention to daunting choice between chaos and community. On behalf of unflattering video clips from his sermons circulated on the Internet
the needs of poor people who have suffered long before the pres- our church and its global partners, I urge you to attend quickly to in early 2008.
ent crisis and whose circumstances are now even more desperate. the peace process between Israel and Palestine, to the AIDS pan-
Your church is eager to be a strong partner with you in long term demic, to the crushing poverty faced by so many in the world,
As long as she is not fully human, neither am I.”
strategies to ensure that all Americans have access to adequate and to the establishment of a respectful and collaborative foreign
housing, nutrition, health care, and education. Poverty is not just policy that sees U.S. interests inextricably linked to the interests — The Rev. Mary Sue Brookshire of United Church of Christ
an economic or political problem. It is at its core a moral issue of the entire global family. La Mesa (Calif.) speaking at a “No on Proposition 8" rally in San
demanding our commitment to God’s justice and compassion. Because of your membership in the United Church of Christ Diego of a lesbian friend, disheartened by society’s treatment of
Equally urgent is the future of God’s fragile creation, long we have watched you with pride and hope, grateful for the role gays.
abused by our indifference and greed. Your presidency comes Trinity United Church of Christ has played in your faith journey.
at a critical moment for people around the world facing the dev- We are also aware that this office involves an enormous burden Finding your way through disagreement and
astations of climate change. Today our stewardship of the earth for you, Michelle, and your daughters. Let me reiterate a com- controversy is never easy, in the church or anywhere
demands sacrifice and political decisions that are difficult. The mitment made to you last spring, offering the hospitality of our else, but still, where public battles rage and the sins
God who calls the worlds into being and who grants us domin- congregations in Washington as places of nurture, sanctuary, and of the body politic work against men and women
ion over the earth bestows on persons and nations an enormous encouragement, congregations where in the midst of all you face and children who are not strong enough to fight for
responsibility. May your presidency reflect a relationship to the can remind you that “God is still speaking.” Above all, know themselves — that’s where the church belongs.”
earth in which dominion is exercised as servanthood for the sake that my prayers, and the prayers of your fellow members, will
of future generations. surround you. — Charles Guerreno, member of First Congregational UCC of
Saginaw (Mich.), in a Saginaw News editorial, “My View: United
Church of Christ free and Christian.”

Small gestures of grace, large hearts of concern

s a recent convert to the United therapist by profession, and it was she who counseled me when I It’s uncluttered, there’s more space for us to think

A Church of Christ, and a rural Mid-
westerner, I’m often surprised in
my travels when I come upon a well-
went through a divorce a decade ago. She leads us in hymns with
a guitar, and it’s not uncommon that the rhythm we are following
is more reminiscent of The Eagles than a church choir.
and pray. Many of us have so much on our minds.
It’s a chance to stop for a while and slow our anxious
thoughts down and offer them to God. Prayers come
more from the heart than from the mind.”
established and aged UCC church. But we are not happy tableau out of an Anne Tyler novel.
I was attending a conference in The charter members who initiated the church were not UCC but — The Rev. Manda Stack, pastor at both Union Grove (Wis.)
Portland, Maine, recently and encoun- Presbyterian. They left that congregation reluctantly over issues UCC and Raymond Community UCC in Franksville, Wis.,
tered a gorgeous stone building with of conscience and worshipped unaffiliated for some time. Even speaking of her communities’ popular Wednesday evening inter-
the simple word “Congregational” now there are some hard feelings between some members of the faith Taizé services.
carved in the stone above the entry, but two congregations.
Steve Rose with a modern sign in front declaring We struggle financially. We know that we are only two or
the building to be a United Church of three tithing families removed from going under.
Christ meeting place. It gives me pause We lost two of our most solid younger members to car
to see such a structure, given my short wrecks in a period of less than three months. Our transgendered
history with UCC. member who waited until middle age to “come out” was recent-
You see, the congregation I attend rents the narthex of a ly diagnosed with, and treated for, a brain tumor.
campus chapel, not the chapel itself, though the chapel proper We try. When those among us grieve or fall ill, we feed and TABULATIONS
goes unused on Sunday mornings. We rearrange the furniture care for them. When one of us is unable to drive, we find rides.
and coffee machines before worship, and then return them to We sponsor a Native American family in South Dakota, and a
their customary places upon its end. van load of us drives out there every summer, armed with ample
On a good Sunday we might have 30 adults in attendance. person-power and a little money.
Most are farmers, teachers, and professors, with a few profes- I stumbled upon these folk by coincidence, my newly mar- BY THE NUMBERS
sionals and retirees rounding out the group. We are almost en- ried spouse wanting to give them a try — their meeting place
tirely white, but the children with us are less so.
Our minister is part time and holds another position with the
Iowa Conference of the UCC. Part of my job, as moderator of
nearby and them not being the church of my past marriage. But I
stay for the God I know here, and the God I want to know more.
Only once in the New Testament do we hear that Jesus
15 million*
the congregation, is to remind her of to take it a little easier and laughed, but I believe we would make him laugh: this odd as- *Estimated number of television viewers who saw the UCC’s
try not to do too much. The Sunday after my return from Port- sortment of eccentrics, academics and marginalized; this con- Stillspeaking ad, “All the People,” during its Sept. 29-Oct. 12 run
land, she preached about Jacob wrestling with the angel. She has gregation of a score and 10 that meets just outside a huge and on BET, Bravo, CNN and TV One.
a fascination, perhaps, with those who attempt the impossible. empty worship hall; these small gestures of grace and large
The tallest member of the congregation is a transgendered hearts of concern.
person, standing about six foot five and given to heavily pat- And once the Christ quits laughing, I know he would smile.
terned synthetics with floral designs. We also have a lesbian
couple whose names I reverse if I’m not careful. Steve Rose is moderator of Crossroads UCC in Indianola, Iowa, and professor
The most trustworthy musician among us is a mental health of education at Simpson College.

in the news people | places | things


Holy Joe’s perks up chaplains’ ministry

By Jeff Woodard everything, 30 percent of our cost porting out troops,” she says. The UCC sure is teaching us some important
is shipping. It shows how much a Coffee Project is a way for congrega- truths in our wilderness experience.”
oing for coffee these days seems as American as mom, baseball couple of people in the right area can tions to support fair prices for coffee
make huge impact on this program.” farmers in the developing world. We For further information or to donate coffee to
and apple pie. While it might actually involve grabbing a cup of Jan Resseger, Minister for Pub- are so glad that Thomas Jastermsky Holy Joe’s Cafe, please call 888/970-7994 or
whatever it is that gets us going, its primary purpose may be to lic Education and Witness with the had the imagination to link the UCC e-mail <>. To donate
strengthen social ties or show support for a friend in need. UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries Coffee Project to the important work via Equal Exchange, call 774/776-7366. The
in Cleveland, applauds Jastermsky’s of our military chaplains.” UCC Coffee Project website is <
Nowhere is this more evident — no spiritual background,” says Gund- good work. “When our church mem- Chaplain Joseph H. Riley echoes coffee-project>.
or more appreciated — than among lach. “You never know what kinds of bers send Equal Exchange coffee to Resseger, thanking “the mighty fine
U.S. military personnel taking part seeds are going to get planted in a Holy Joe’s Café, they are simultane- saints that are reaching across the Jeff Woodard is a regular contributor to United
in the initiative known as Holy Joe’s situation like that, when their moral ously supporting fair trade and sup- water to the desert place. The Lord Church News.
Café. Thanks to Thomas Jastermsky and spiritual underpinnings are being
and a dedicated core of volunteers, challenged.”
troops don’t have to go for coffee; While the pipeline of caffeine
it’s coming to them. and conversation is greatly appreciat-
“It has really taken off,” says ed by service personnel abroad, they
Jastermsky, a deacon at First Con- are equally as grateful for prayers
gregational UCC in Wallingford, from back home, says Jastermsky.
Conn., who developed the initiative “It’s about helping individuals get
and set it into motion two years ago. through a lot of tough situations.”
“We’re now sending coffee to 95 The internet, for all its modern-
chaplains in locations in Kuwait, Iraq day advantages, is not always help-
and Afghanistan.” ful. It forges an unprecedented link
Serving a variety of settings, the between active-duty troops and loved
movement has grown dramatically ones far away. But a click of a mouse
both within the UCC and ecumeni- is just as apt to bring news of hard-

Troops in Iraq enjoy fellowship at Holy Joe’s Café.

James Suddeth photo

cally, says Jastermsky. “There’s a ships at home — illness, job loss, fi-
huge need for this. The chaplaincy is nancial squeeze. “Chaplains are our
a ministry of presence, and coffee is a first line of defense, especially for our
way for more real interaction.” younger troops, who are dealing with
Holy Joe’s provides soldiers a lot internally,” says Jastermsky. “It’s
a quiet place to talk with friends, hot, it’s rotten, it’s war — and then
converse with chaplains or write a everything back home is going on.”
letter home. “Our community cof- The outreach of Holy Joe’s Café
fee bar has become the lifeblood of extends to combat hospitals in Iraq
the camp,” writes Chaplain Michael and on-site “decompression models”
J. Lovett. “Your donations have had where soldiers can speak one-on-one
a direct impact on our operations. with chaplains. “A third system is to
Your act of kindness not only meets go out to the FOBs (forward operating
a physical need but also strengthens bases), which are smaller locations of
our troops emotionally.” 35 or 40 people,” says Jastermsky.
Jastermsky and the Rev. John Holy Joe’s is funded by checks
Gundlach, UCC Minister for Gov- from churches or by donors partici-
ernment Chaplaincies, both note that pating via UCC-sponsored Equal Ex-
many of the troops have had little change, which ships coffee overseas.
church background or spiritual de- Among the most giving of the volun-
velopment, so Holy Joe’s provides teers, says Jastermsky, is Carol Wal-
prayer groups and fellowship oppor- lace of Middlefield, Conn. “She has
tunities. made donations to cover the cost of
“These people are receiving care shipping. That’s a huge component,
at a time in their life when they have because with materials, logistics and

people | places | things in the news

New and renewing congregations WELCOMING THE EXILE

receive seed money, sprout progress

By Gregg Brekke ferences at their fall meeting. Total
funding requests for 2008 equaled
he UCC draws ever closer towards reaching its goal, set in 2006, $2,753,965 from 37 new and re-

T of 250 new congregations by 2011. Actions by conferences and

the Local Church Ministries (LCM) board, through the New Church
Leadership Initiative, bring the total number of new churches in this
newing congregations.
Funds for new and renewing
congregation grants come from Our
Church’s Wider Mission, the New
and Renewing Churches Endow-
period to 85.
ment Fund, Strengthen the Church
At its fall meeting, the LCM board voted to allocate $290,000 in sup- Special Mission Offering and Make
port of 11 new and renewing congregations in nine Conferences. a Difference.
“The good news is the increased
Six new churches include a the final allocation of 2008 sup- number of new and renewing con-
Marshallese congregation in Tuc- port which totaled $661,500. Sup- gregations in the UCC,” said the
son, Ariz.; a Hispanic congregation port was granted to 19 congrega- Rev. David Schoen, minister and
in Phoenix; a multicultural-multira- team leader for Congregational
cial congregation in Baton Rouge, Vitality and Discipleship. “The
La.; and three Euro-American con- difficult news is the lack of funds
gregations, one each in Owasso, available to support these congrega-
Okla., Flemington, N.J., and Can- tions.”
ton, Ohio. Schoen invites UCC members
The five renewing congrega- to continue their contributions to
tions are a Filipino congregation tions from 16 conferences, as well the New and Renewing Churches
in Honolulu; an African-American as one conference development Endowment Fund, which enables
congregation in New Orleans; a program. Five of the new and re- sustained growth in new churches,
multiracial-multicultural congrega- newing congregations have ex- and dedication for congregational
tion in Santa Rosa, Calif.; and two pressed the intent of being open revitalization.
Euro-American congregations, one and affirming. "Mother and Child" (oil on canvas) by Anne Ierardi, was one of several images, poems
In total, the Evangelism Minis- and short stories submitted around this issue's theme, “Welcoming the Exile.”
in Somerville, Mass., and the other Information on Congregational Vitality, includ-
in Louisville, Ky. try received requests of $1,274,500 ing new and renewing church activities, can be Links to other submissions can be found at <>
These congregations received for 24 congregations from 17 con- found at <>.

centerstage feature presentation

NO LONGER A STRANGER: Welcoming the exile

Where Jesus comes from
By Donna Schaper

e rarely read the genealogy in Matthew’s first chapter all the way through.

W A lay reader quakes at the thought of pronouncing all those names — and
there is so much Advent and Christmas competition. The other words are
so beautiful, why bore people with lists?
We ignore this text at our peril. It is one of the most radical and telling
pieces in all of biblical literature. What it says is that Jesus comes from an immigrant back-
ground. He comes from many, not from one. He is of mixed race. He is also understood as a
person with a maternal as well as paternal lineage. The writer of Matthew understood what
he was saying and doing: Jesus transcends the tribes that often provide us with such false
The list is not only “contaminated” by scripture. By noting them, Matthew reminds
mixed races and mixed classes, it includes four us that God, nonetheless, uses those easily
women. Genealogies just weren’t written that forgotten and overlooked for the good of all.
way at the time. The women were omitted, reg- Ordinary people — as well as saints and sin-
ularly. Even the feeding of the 5,000 counts the ners — notes the populist Matthew, get us to
men and tells us so. Five thousand were fed, not Jesus too.
counting the women and children. As New Testament scholar Raymond
Consider his ancestors. Brown notes, the Story of Jesus isn’t told with
One of the women is Tamar, who disguised straight lines. If you have ever thought that
herself as a prostitute to trick her father-in-law your own family was checkered with both no-
into keeping his promise to her and producing bility and riff-raff, and if you ever considered
an heir. The fruit of this tricky union is one of your own life a combination of good faith and
the great-grandfathers of Jesus. bad judgment, be comforted by the lineage of
Another is Rehab, a well known harlot who Jesus.
assisted two spies sent to Jericho by Joshua. In This text might also suggest that we stop
doing so, Rehab became an exemplar of faith using the terms “foreigner” and “mixed race.”
and works. Rehab is a great-grandmother of Je- Even “illegal alien” might be shelved.
sus. Ruth is also on the list. Queen Elizabeth, apparently, was quoted
Ruth was a Moabite, a descendent of Lot. at some point saying that she wanted her son
Her place in the social registrar of Israel was Charles to marry a woman with a history, not
surely very low. Nevertheless, Ruth became a a past. Way too many Christians work way
great-grandmother of David and distant great- too hard to assure that Jesus is pure and spot-
grandmother of our Lord. less. Matthew differs. He says that all kinds
Matthew is embarrassed to even name the of roads, and tickets, and people, can lead to
fourth woman directly. He simply calls her the Christ.
wife of Ukiah. She is of course Bath Sheba, a What does this genealogy mean to us to- Peter Austin | iStockPhoto graphic
victim of the most scandalous case of seduc- day, as our armed forces land in foreign lands,
tion in the First Testament. She too is a great- as “our” children and “theirs” cry themselves to “foreigners” misunderstands Matthew. It for- as us and them. We may welcome the so-called
grandmother of our Lord. sleep because daddy is far away and won’t be gets that God is found in the stranger and not “other.” He/she is our savior’s grandparent.
Notably, not a single one of these women is home for Christmas? It means that the world is in the self. It forgets what Jesus went on to say
a Jew. Tamara was a Canaanite; Ruth a Moabite, one. The sorrow of the sleepless child, whose about how we find him — in the naked and the The Rev. Donna Schaper is Senior Minister of Judson Memo-
Rehab of Jericho, and Bath Sheeba, through her father is a soldier, is clothed with the sorrow lost. When Americans say they want the for- rial UCC in New York City, a New Sanctuary congregation.
husband, a Hittite. of the people of Afghanistan. Christians have a eigners “out,” they are really saying they don’t Her most recent books are “Grassroots Gardening: Rituals to
The final 14 generations are almost totally trans-national, trans-tribal savior. want to meet God. Sustain Activists” from Nation books and “Living Well While
unknown. They aren’t recorded elsewhere in The current debate over immigration and We may and must see the world as one, not Doing Good” from Church Publications.

STRANGER ENCOUNTERS: The biblical example of welcome

By Jane Fisler Hoffman the police’s intensity on his capture, the situation felt at its weakest, politically and spiritually, as God” (Leviticus 19:34; Exodus 10: 17-19).
came to a dangerous moment. But Ida talked to in the book of Ezra (chapter 10.) The stranger God’s expectations of Israel with the strang-
da’s faith was tested when a stranger came both parties, and brought them to a point where and their strange gods are seen as a danger to the er even go beyond non-oppression and charity

I to the door of her home at the end of a coun-

try road. She looked out at the white man,
quite noticeable in her largely black com-
munity, and saw his gray jumpsuit. She was sure
he was the convicted murderer the radio said had
the man could safely be taken into custody.
As they began to put him in the car, he turned
to her and said simply, “Thank you for your hos-
pitality, ma’am.” And the stranger was gone.
It was a stranger encounter. It was a moment
purity of Israel after the exile. At another time,
“strangers” are the instruments of God’s anger
(Ezekiel 11:9).
But those are the minority reports in the
stranger encounters of Israel. The overriding af-
(e.g. leaving gleanings in Deuteronomy 24:19,
In Numbers 15 and 19, the stranger/alien is
seen as being responsible to the same law, with
the same privileges and responsibilities, as the
escaped from the prison several miles away. of biblical proportions because the Bible is filled firmation of God is to welcome, protect, share people of Israel. The equality of status extends
Ida had several choices, including the rifle with stranger encounters and with the same ten- with and, interestingly, identify with the stranger all the way to the throne of God: “You and the
she kept in the corner for shooting squirrels. But sion Ida faced: what to do when confronted with because of the shared experience of having been alien shall be alike before the Lord” (Numbers
instead, she chose to open the door. The whole a stranger, someone unknown and different from stranger/alien themselves. Over and over, as God 15:15).
story merits a longer telling, but here’s the crux: you? guides the people of Israel into a community, as In the story of Ruth, God makes a radical
At first he was threatening, but Ida fed him and The stranger (aka alien, foreigner) moves told in the books of the Pentateuch, we hear this move by taking a stranger and making her a
listened to his fears and anger, and spoke to him through Hebrew tradition from the exodus theme: mother of the new nation of Israel through her
like the mama he had hardly known. through the exile. An overview of the texts re- “When an alien resides with you in your great grandson, David.
She insisted on praying with him, and he minds us that at times the “stranger” is seen by land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien Then in Jesus, God makes the strangest
wept as he remembered a long gone childhood Israel as a threat, and there is tension in the re- with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; move of all: embodying, becoming the stranger
faith. Eventually, the state police surrounded lationship. you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were in our midst. In the perhaps too familiar text of
Ida’s home. Between the man’s renewed fear and The tension was most evident when Israel aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your Matthew 25:35, Jesus identifies | cont. 9

Who’s in the pew next to you?
By E.S. Gaffney
feature presentation

long after, they are in a congregation.

he pastor of a small UCC church in the northern plains returned
It has been reported that the pas- COMMENTARY

tor of Wichita’s BTK killer, who was
from a 10-day vacation to find the church in an uproar. While away,
a video had surfaced on YouTube showing one of the newer families
the president of his church council,
found himself drawn to Mark 28:20
From exile to embrace
By Mahan Siler
— “I am with you always, to the end
in the church making racial and anti-Semitic remarks on a late night of the age” — as he prepared his ser-
TV talk show. To say the least, their remarks were vitriolic and full of hate. mon for the Sunday following Dennis eflecting on the theme, “Welcoming the Exile,” prompted a
The deacons peppered their pastor with questions. “Did you know about
this? How could you let these people into our church? Why didn’t you warn
us?” They demanded answers.
Rader’s capture. “If Dennis has done
what they’ve alleged he did, then he
must pay the price,” the Rev. Michael
Clark said. “It still does not have any
effect on how I minister to him. I still
R review of my history with Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in
Raleigh, N.C. Between 1986 and 1992, we made the journey
toward full inclusion of LGBT persons, including the ritual of blessing
for same-sex commitments. I was in search of an insight that might
Three years earlier — shortly after ment after the service. Barely a dozen will love him.”
the pastor arrived at her new church people attended her sermon based If we are not willing to engage illuminate a larger theology of inclusion.
— the church secretary answered the on Luke 7:36-8:3 — the story of the the outcasts or renegades from soci- From my balcony position of and replaced with trust. In 1987,
office phone. A timid voice said they woman who interrupted a posh din- ety, how can we expect that their be- retirement, what I saw surprised it was named in the Samaritan’s
were looking for a church but weren’t ner party to wash Jesus’ feet with her liefs or behaviors will ever change? me. Embedded in a pastoral jour- witness: We heterosexuals are the
sure if they’d be welcome. tears and with precious ointment, and Distasteful or dangerous as it may be, nal entry from June 28, 1987, is exiles, and our gay friends hold
“Of course.” The secretary echoed to dry them with her hair. The woman we are directed to go and tell the gos- an insight virtually lost during the keys to our deliverance.
the UCC’s new slogan. “No matter begged forgiveness for her sins, which pel to all. If we do not, who will? subsequent years. The journal en- I grew up in a homophobic
who you are, no matter where you are was granted. The pastor concluded The northern plains pastor had try took note of my “coming out” climate, a condition I internalized
on life’s journey, you are welcome her sermon. “The church is not in the followed the admonitions of Mark sermon about homosexuality. — or exiled — deep within my-
here.” morality business, the church is in the 16:15, “Go into the world. Go ev- This is a portion of that entry: self. I lived and breathed the pejo-
The next Sunday, a young couple forgiveness business.” erywhere and announce the Message “In the sermon today I rative stereotypes of my Southern
visited the church with two grade She descended the stairs to the of God’s good news to one and all.” worked with the familiar par- culture. Jokes about “fags” were
school children and a preschooler. basement where the council was And she obeyed Christ’s commission able of the Good Samaritan… I unchallenged, along with taunts
The father could easily have passed waiting. Most of them had not wor- in Matthew 28:20 to “instruct them in presented the ways in which we against Roman Catholics, Jews,
for one of those burly bouncers in shiped upstairs that morning. Seeing the practice of all I have commanded victimize the homosexual person blacks and “uppity” women.
the ad — the ones who decide who the handwriting on the wall, she of- you.” in our culture. No surprise in that. Only now do I see clearly
can enter the church and who cannot. fered her resignation. She had been working almost two The congregation expects me to what I discerned in the Samari-
The pastor and the congregation wel- Welcoming is not as easy as years to bring the father of this fam- make the ‘justice’ point. tan’s witness from that 1987 ser-
comed them. A few months later, they a slogan, but we are called to do it. ily to see the inclusive and forgiving Then, I attempt an unantici- mon. I marvel at LGBT persons
joined the congregation. Everyone Jesus told us directly to do it. “I was message of the Christ. By the time the pated twist, the very kind of sur- who, in the face of consistent
was sure this was the beginning of a a stranger and you welcomed me” video appeared on YouTube, he had prise experienced in the original condemnation from the larger
new era of church growth. (Matthew 25:36). And he taught us by abandoned all connections with the parable. I remind the congrega- church, still choose to love the
The pastor had to answer the de- example when he talked with the out- Christian Church Aryan. Sadly, hav- tion that Samaritans were ‘the church.
manding deacons. Yes, she had known casts of his day — Samaritans, lepers, ing been rejected by his UCC church, most hated, most discredited per- In church, that is, within our
about it, but not when the couple first tax collectors. He even chose a tax he returned to the Aryan church. “Be- sons in Jesus’ world. Yet, Jesus mutual participation in God’s
joined the church. She found out in a collector to be one of his disciples. cause they accept me,” he said. presents the despised Samaritan call to justice and the gift of mer-
counseling session about a year later. But there are fears and even dan- How can we open the eyes of as the hero, the source of grace.’ cy, they offered me, and other
She didn’t tell anyone because the gers (real or imagined) that accom- those blinded by racial hatred, how Similarly, I reason, homosexu- heterosexual members, the gift
information was given in confidence. pany welcoming. We see church as a can we help heal those whose souls al persons, among the ‘most hated, of a relationship. They provided
She had been working with both par- safe place, a place where we can relax are sick with unrestrained sexual de- most discredited persons’ in our so- a safe place within friendships
ents to lead them to understand the from the constant worry of modern sires or murderous fantasies, if we do ciety, just might be the instrument that allowed our feelings, and
meaning of Jesus’ openness and in- society. not deal with them? How, if we do not of God’s grace. Perhaps they are their feelings, to be named and
clusivity. Most churches would be reluctant ask them to confront Jesus, to bring the bearers of the healing we need. voiced.
The next evening, the church to accept sex offenders. The dangers their actions to him, to lay down those Only they can help us tend to the In time, the polarizing cat-
council was unmoved. One member, are obvious. State laws increasingly acts, and to beg forgiveness? wound of homophobia, that fearful egories of straight, gay, lesbian,
showing almost as much hatred as the force convicted sex offenders out of prejudice that inflicts blindness and bi-sexual and transgender melted
offenders, angrily declared, “We can- homes, often into rural areas where E.S. Gaffney is a retired geophysical researcher fosters prejudice. The congregation into virtual insignificance. “I-
not tolerate hatred.” schools and parks are widely sepa- living in Honolulu, Hawaii. He and his wife are anticipated ‘homosexuals need our You” became “We” who joined
Two Sunday later, the president of rated. But not all offenders are known 33-year members of the UCC. Currently, they care and advocacy.’ They likely did together in worshipping the God
the church council told the pastor they as such. Sometimes their offenses are members of St. John’s UCC in Council not expect the reverse: ‘We need at work in the “welcoming of ex-
wanted to meet with her in the base- become known only after, sometimes Bluffs, Iowa. what only our homosexual friends iles” within us.
can bring to us.’ ” The exiled, fearful parts within
STRANGER | cont. himself as the statement. urgent mission to live this stranger life Remaining on the surface as us that create enemies to dominate
stranger to be welcomed. Clearly the dominant urging from with him. the focus of our discernment was bear many names: sexism, racism,
Familiarity risks robbing this state- our long faith tradition is hospitality, The opportunities set themselves the query: How will we be in re- classism, nationalism, as well as,
ment of its amazing power, but the equality, care for and identification before us in diverse ways, great and lationship with LGBT persons in heterosexism. But this is the good
urgency of life in a world of strang- with the stranger. Those are the con- small — from learning to greet our our midst and beyond our congre- news: paradoxically, the exclud-
ers requires us to receive its impact. stant commands of our God, the one neighbors in a second language to giv- gation? Can we embrace, not ex- ed, the “exiled,” the Samaritans
In this story from Matthew, Jesus first who came as a stranger in our midst ing sanctuary to the refugee, as several ile, by welcoming them into full among us, through their offer of
acknowledges his identity as “the Son and with whom we are “strangers and UCC congregations from New York to membership? With considerable relationships, become instruments
of Man [who] comes in his glory, and foreigners on the earth” (Hebrews California are doing. cost, Pullen said and embodied of freedom from the force of our
all the angels with him.” There Christ 11:13b). One of the last references to strang- “yes, we will.” internalized, “exiled” fears.
is, reigning sovereign and savior of the This is the God who, in Jesus ers in the biblical canon (Hebrews 13:1- Now, some 15 years later, I Strangely, “by their stripes we
world. Christ, welcomes and transforms us 2) gives a final encouragement for our see this action as only one face of are healed.” Only by the power of
It is astounding, then, that in his all so we are “no longer strangers and stranger encounters: “Let mutual love our transformation. At that time, God in these relationships of wel-
very moment of glory Jesus identifies aliens” but “citizens with the saints continue. Do not neglect to show hos- we defined LGBT persons as the come can we — all of us — wel-
himself with the risky stranger — for and also members of the household of pitality to strangers, for by doing that exiles that needed our full wel- come home our inner exiles.
strangers were seen as threats to a re- God.” some have entertained angels without come and embrace.
ligion of purity and a nation oppressed As our nation struggles with im- knowing it.” But in truth, all along a deep- Mahan Siler is a member of Circle of
by empire. The sovereign Jesus says migration issues and the enduring sins Or all the more, we may encounter er, not so obvious, converting ac- Mercy Church (UCC/American Baptist) in
starkly, “I was a stranger and you wel- of racism, sexism, homophobia and Jesus himself, our stranger-savior. tion was occurring. LGBT friends Asheville, N.C. His book, “Exile or Embrace?
comed me…” the chasm between rich and poor; and were offering relationships in Congregations Discerning their Response
The savior is stranger, the strang- as the nations of the world engage one The Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman is interim Confer- which our inner exiled homopho- to Gay and Lesbian Christians,” is available
er is savior. To welcome one is to another across hostile lines, we who fol- ence Minister of the Southern California / Nevada bia could be named, released from Pilgrim Press.
welcome the other. It is an astounding low Jesus, the stranger-savior, have an Conference.

CYCLING BACK FROM NEAR-TRAGEDY people | places | things in the news

Going the distance, Conference minister embraces competition
By Gregg Brekke head injuries, along with the inter- “It was a really long
nal injuries, and no one was certain struggle,” says Molsberry
he marathon, that 26.2 mile test of endurance and will, continues of what life would be like for me if I of his year-long transition

T to inspire athletes of all levels. From its historic roots in ancient

Greece, to individuals meeting life-long fitness goals, the marathon
stands as an icon of sporting achievement.
came out of the coma.”
Molsberry did revive, and it was
only then that doctors diagnosed his
spinal injuries and paralysis. He ad-
mits that there was a moment of doubt
out of the hospital and
back into full-time min-
istry at UCC-Congrega-
tional in Grinnell, Iowa.
“I didn’t feel like the same
A distinct addition to modern cling accident left him paralyzed and depression upon learning that his person, and I didn’t know
marathons has been the inclusion of from the waist down. The accident formerly active lifestyle would be how folks regarded me.”
wheelchair and hand cycling racers. occurred as he was returning home forever altered. But Molsberry, ever
Those who have participated or at- from a Memorial Day weekend train- the competitor, didn’t linger on his Returning to being
tended marathons will surely have ing ride when what witnesses say misfortune for long.
seen these athletes — normally far was a drunk driver slammed into “One of the turning points of an athlete has really
ahead of their two-legged race com- Molsberry on his bike. my physical therapy was when they saved my life."
panions. Molsberry has no recollection brought me down to the recreation
Ohio Conference Minister, the of the accident, the trip to the hospi- room — there was an old hand cycle.
Rev. Bob Molsberry, is one such ath- tal or the MedEvac helicopter flight They figured out how to put me on
lete. He competed in 2008 as a hand to Des Moines. The initial days and it and I started cranking down the He found commonal-
cyclist at both the Wright-Patterson weeks after the crash were tenuous. hallway of the hospital,” Molsberry ity among other athletes
Air Force Base and Columbus mara- Given the severity of his blood loss recalled. “I felt the wind on my face with disabilities. An-
thons in Ohio. His times of 1:42:03, and internal injuries, doctors initially and I decided right there and then that other injured cyclist, who
for third place at Wright-Patterson, gave him a one percent chance of life was going to happen again.” Molsberry knew from the
and 1:47:04, for second place in Co- survival. He spent the next six weeks Spending the last two months of hospital, had purchased a
lumbus, place him among the top in a coma. his nearly four-month hospital stay high-end hand cycle. He
hand cyclists in the region. “It was touch and go,” says Mols- in rehabilitation, Molsberry learned invited Molsberry to try
Molsberry’s return to competi- berry of this time. “My family didn’t how to accommodate his injuries and it and he was hooked. “I
tion has evolved over the last 11 know if I would survive, or if I did, establish new expectations for mobil- loved it and immediately Ohio Conference Minister the Rev. Bob Molsberry
competes in the 2008 Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
years. In 1997, a hit-and-run bicy- what would be left of me. There were ity. ordered one for myself,” marathon.
photo furnished
says Molsberry.
That same year, 1998, he re- berry. “When I came to Ohio [as
turned to ride a summertime tradi- Conference Minister], I thought I’d
tional group ride called RAGBRAI be too busy to continue in competi-
(Register’s Annual Great Bicycle tion. But exactly the opposite has
Ride Across Iowa). On this first out- happened. The busier I get the more I
ing as a hand cyclist he rode half the need it to have a sense of normalcy.”
daily 50-70 miles with his children For others facing the challenges
and spent each evening at the day’s of a disability he says, “You can’t
host community. Molsberry has com- take the dead-end [of a disability]
pleted this eight-day ride 10 times as a final answer. Don’t give up, be-
since, each time cycling the entire cause there are other ways to still be
distance, which averages 470 miles. yourself. In order for me to be alive
Training for, and competing in, spiritually, as well as physically, I
eight marathons and numerous tri- need to be active.”
athlons since his accident, Molsberry
believes he is in the best shape of his Molsberry’s memoir about his return to ministry
life. and athletics after the accident, “Blindsided by
“Returning to being an athlete Grace,” is available from Augsburg Fortress
has really saved my life,” says Mols- Press.

in the news people | places | things


With costs skyrocketing, United Church News to explore funding, savings
From staff reports

he future of United Church News’ print edition will be the subject

convene a consultation that will in-
clude members of the OGM board,
Executive Council, Conference rep-
How can I help?
T of broad discussions in coming months in hopes of discover-
ing how the newspaper’s rapidly rising costs can be curtailed,
shared or more adequately funded.
In the past five years, the cost of printing and mailing United Church
News has risen more than 100 percent. In 2003, it cost $60,000 per
resentatives, Collegium of Officers,
Editor Gregg Brekke, and others,
“to examine the model and costs of
United Church News.”
As part of its action, the board
asked that “any recommendations
should include how United Church
In June, United Church News launched “Operation Clean
Database” to ensure that its subscriber list was accurate and that
duplicate copies were not being mailed to the same address. With
help from Conference offices, about 8,500 unnecessary subscrip-
tions have been eliminated.
But there’s more to do. Here’s how you can help.
issue. This year, due to dramatic increases in newspaper postal rates News or some other resource is coor-
and newsprint, it costs $125,000 to print and mail a single issue — or dinated with an overall communica- — GO GREEN.
$750,000 annually for the newspaper’s six editions. tion strategy,” according to its voted
action. » With the help of a reply postcard tucked inside this issue,
The board of the Office of General Ministries voted Nov. 1 to ask “People should not assume that United Church News is now offering an easy way for members to opt
General Minister and President John H. Thomas, Associate General this conversation will automatically out of print subscriptions if they would prefer to read it online instead.
Minister Edith Guffey and Communications Director J. Bennett Guess to lead to the elimination of United » Each issue of United Church News appears online at <ucc.
Church News,” Guess cautioned. org/ucnews>. Persons who return the postcard and provide an
“We know it’s a lifeline to many and e-mail address will begin receiving the UCC’s new weekly e-zine,
it’s a living, constant reminder of our
“Keeping You ePosted,” which will also alert readers when a new
issue of the print edition is available to read online.
The problem is that we’re » “If readers genuinely prefer to receive the newspaper in print,
now competing with postal then we hope they will continue to do so,” said the Rev. J. Bennett
Guess, the UCC’s Communications Director. “But if they would just
rates and newsprint costs as well prefer to read it online and save some money for the church,
that make large-scale print that too would be good for us to know.”
publishing a very costly
enterprise.” — GIVE GREEN.
» While United Church News is provided at no charge, that
— The Rev. J. Bennett Guess doesn’t mean it’s free. Readers can help by periodically returning the
enclosed giving envelope, which is inserted in most issues. Give as
individuals and as congregations.
shared ministries. But, at the same
time, we need to explore ways to save » “If each reader would voluntarily contribute $10, $25 or more,
money, increase revenue and explore the cumulative effect would help preserve the printed publication for
the funding structure that now exists those who really want it,” Guess said.
to pay for the National and Confer- » Readers can give online at <>.
ence editions.”

Partnership arrangement United Church News. “The partnership has resulted in

In 1999, before United Church In an effort to boost overall read- great savings for Conferences, a bet-
News implemented a first-of-its- ership and create a seamless vehicle ter product for our readers and a sub-
kind National-Conference partner- for the delivery of UCC news, the stantial subscriber base of more than
ship, the UCC’s national newspaper National setting agreed to gradu- 200,000 households,” Guess said.
went to fewer than 55,000 addresses, ally take over costs for printing and “We’re now the largest denomina-
which included 12,000 copies to ac- mailing the Conference editions as tional newspaper in the country.”
tive and retired clergy and another companion sections to the National
12,000 to local churches (two per section — in exchange for mailing Donations and advertising
congregation). addresses. Even though there is no set fee for
“The number of actual paying In 2008, of the $750,000 spent a subscription, Guess said that free-
subscribers, at the time, was less than on United Church News, the Na- will donations do significantly out-
30,000,” Guess said. “Something had tional setting will spend more than pace the income once received from
to be done to reach a larger segment $280,000 to print and mail the Con- paid subscriptions, as was anticipated
of the UCC’s membership.” ference sections. when the National-Conference part-
At the same time, Guess said, Thirty-two Conferences now nership was devised. Reader contri-
each of the UCC’s Conferences was participate in the cooperative pro- butions are projected to be $122,000
producing and mailing their own gram, Guess said, and it’s become in 2008, up from $25,000 in 2004.
newspapers, at a significant cost to the Conferences’ primary vehicle for Ad revenue increases have been
them, without any coordination with communications. even more pronounced. In 2008,
ad sales are expected to surpass
$265,000, up from $27,000 in 2004.
“Advertisers are now paying at-
tention to United Church News be-
cause our subscriber and reader base
is so large,” Guess said.
“Our income, both from ad-
vertisers and donors, has increased
exponentially as was projected,”
he said. “The problem is that we’re
now competing with postal rates and
newsprint costs that make large-scale
print publishing a very costly enter-

'USE FREEDOM RESPONSIBLY' art | film | music | books | web culture

‘Holy Adventure’ explores new spiritual ground

By Jeff Woodard
ous choices and our environment. ministry for going beyond reinter-
Like a good parent, God wants us to pretation of Bible passages and con- HOLY ADVENTURE:
ike many progressive pastors, the Rev. Bruce Epperly can’t help

use our freedom responsibly as God sidering new perspectives on topics
41 Days of Audacious Living,
but think outside the box. Or, in his case, “color outside the lines.” calls us to be more creative and free such as homosexuality — and sex in
in shaping our lives and the world.” general. “God is saying, ‘Well, this is
“It’s OK if we color outside the lines a bit, to be creative,
The “extra” day in Epperly’s how it’s been understood in the past,
imaginative,” says Epperly, whose new book, “Holy Adventure: book is designed to symbolize that but behold, here is a new thing,’ ” he
41 Days of Audacious Living,” is intended as an alternative to Rick War- the future is open. “It’s very much says.
a practical theology. Each of the 41 Eagerly anticipating those “new
ren’s best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life.” Warren’s work — a guide to
days focuses on a theological theme things” yet to come, Epperly hopes
living 21st-century life based on eternal purposes, not cultural values — and then provides exercises to live it “Holy Adventure” helps to provide
uses Biblical stories and a set of devotionals titled “40 Days of Purpose” out with their heart, head and hand.” the spiritual foundation on which
Local churches can use “Holy people can build and live out their
to explain God’s plan.
Adventure” for both group and indi- faith.
“In ‘The Purpose Driven Life,’ traumatic events.” vidual study, says Epperly. “My goal “We live in a world where the
you find out what your job is, and if Undermining Warren’s message would be for congregations to study final word hasn’t been written, so
By Dr. Bruce Epperly
you stay inside the lines, you’re OK,” is not Epperly’s intent. “It’s the dif- this book and help them frame their we’re helping to write it.”
says Epperly, Director of Continuing ference between purpose and adven- own lives, shape where God is call- Upper Room, 2008.
Education and Professor of Practical ture, and being driven and having a ing them on the adventure. If there’s Jeff Woodard is a member of Pilgrim Congre- Paperback, $15.00
Theology at Lancaster (Pa.) Theo- degree of creativity in the course of one challenge of our church, we’ve gational UCC in Cleveland, Ohio, and a regular ISBN 978-0-8358-9970-3,
logical Seminary. “If not, you’re in your life,” says Epperly, who, along forgotten contemplation in the midst contributor to United Church News. <>.
trouble.” with his wife, the Rev. Katherine of all our action. We need both. When
Epperly says he has had many Gould Epperly, is co-pastor of the we live out our faith, our actions are
conversations with pastors, includ- Disciples United Community Church inspired.”
ing several from the UCC, whose in Lancaster. “‘The Purpose Driven In many ways, Epperly thinks
congregations have studied “The Life’ implies that the script has been “Holy Adventure” is the embodiment
Purpose Driven Life.” “It brought written, that goals have been planted, of the UCC’s “God is still speaking”
people to adult studies, but many and all we have to do is discover ministry. “Our church quite possibly
pastors weren’t comfortable with the them.” has the most dynamic model of any
theology of it. They struggled with Defining “adventure” as “the denomination in the world. ‘God is
the notion that God, despite every- interplay of call and response,” Ep- still speaking’ is saying that your life
thing that is important in our lives, perly says God continually calls us to is an adventure, and that God is not
acts without our input. It challenged take our role as God’s companions in finished. He is still in the process of
our human freedom and seemed to creatively healing our lives, relation- doing a new thing . . . and he wants us
imply that God was responsible for ships and the earth. “Freedom is real, to be part of it.”
heinous events, from genocide to but it is always shaped by our previ- Epperly praises the Stillspeaking

COMMENTARY: How to live faithfully in an economic downturn

By Anthony B. Robinson
god of wealth, but the god of “More.”
“This is the god who declares that
ore of Everything” is the slogan for one of the big box retailers we can live without limits, that more
in our area. Its trucks roll by with those words emblazoned on wealth, more growth, more spending
must always be the way of the future.
the side: “More of Everything.” We have come to worship the golden
Suddenly that slogan seems less like glad tidings than it does a haunting, calf of unlimited growth.”
sad chiding. For some time now, we Americans seem to have worshipped Lloyd quotes the Kentucky farmer
and writer Wendell Berry: “The com-
a god named “More.” More growth, more money, more experiences, more monly accepted basis of our economy
houses, more cars, more speed, more stuff. Always and everywhere more; is the supposed possibility of limit-
always and everywhere pushing the limits. Now that seems to have backfired. less growth, limitless wants, limitless
wealth, limitless natural resources,
Perhaps we should not be sur- go beyond what has previously been limitless energy and limitless debt.
prised. Perhaps we aren’t surprised. thought possible. And there is a time The idea of a limitless economy im-
There is a reason for limits. As for acknowledging limits, for mind- plies and requires a doctrine of gener-
any four-year-old who gets a hold of ing our boundaries, and respecting the al human limitlessness; all are entitled
the cookie jar or a container of Cool rules. to pursue without limit whatever they
Whip learns, there is such a thing as Arguably, our strong suit as conceive as desirable.”
“too much of a good thing.” There is Americans has been the first: push- In the present challenges might
a reason for limits. “More” is not al- ing the limits, crossing boundaries, we discern a divine chastening of
ways a good idea. and achieving what others haven’t excess and the doctrine of “general
In classical Christian thought, hu- even tried. Is there a shadow side to human limitlessness?”
man beings are of a dual nature. We this virtue? Our relentless pushing Limitless growth may violate
are finite, made of earth, mortal and of the limits, our drive for “more of God’s plan and ordering of life. Now
limited. And we are also free, and if everything,” has been one-sided and may be a time to remember what we
not exactly infinite, then capable of excessive. We have failed to take ac- have too long seemed happier to for-
going beyond the given circumstanc- count of our finitude, to honor limits, get: The wisdom of limits and the
es. Finite and free, we have one foot to live with boundaries. blessing of boundaries.
on earth and one in heaven. Are the present economic woes
“What a piece of work is man,” a judgment on our transgression and The Rev. Anthony B. Robinson, a UCC ordained
exclaimed Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the failure to acknowledge and value speaker and author, teaches leadership at Em-
he contemplated the human being limits and boundaries in the push for manuel College at the University of Toronto. This
who is both “infinite in faculties” and “More of Everything?” article is one in a collection of Writers Group pro-
a “quintessence of dust.” The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd, duced reflections titled “Faith and Tough Economic
Life’s great challenge is to give Dean of the National Cathedral (Epis- Times: Pastoral Perspectives.” Additional resources
both parts their due. There is a time copal) in Washington D.C., writes that are available at <
to push limits, cross boundaries, and Americans worship not simply the tough-economic.html>.

marketplace resources | classifieds Contact Connie Larkman at <> or 866/822-8224 ext. 2196 for display and Marketplace (classified) advertising.

full benefits. Send resumes/profiles to the Disciples of Christ, Lynchburg, Va. Phone
EMPLOYMENT 434/455-5004; web <chysalis-interfaith-
Rev. Jim Moos, Bismarck UCC, 1200 E.
Highland Acres Rd., Bismarck, ND 58501;>.
— The United Church of Gainesville, a
SENIOR MINISTER — energetic with an intentional community where those
progressive, Open and Affirming, theologi-
strong preaching and pastoral skills for called to careers in Christian service live,
cally diverse congregation of 600-plus in
the Glencoe Union Church. Located in learn, grow and extend their commitment
the heart of North Central Florida, seeks
a delightful northern suburb of Chicago to service within the community and around
an Associate Minister with energy and
along Lake Michigan, Glencoe Union is a the world. Visit <>.
experience; skilled in adult programs
and pastoral care. Join our dynamic and non-denominational church of about 300
involved and highly educated members, RETIRE TO SCENIC BRISTOL VILLAGE
well-grounded ministerial team in this
with a faith tradition compatible with most in Southern Ohio. Safe, affordable, friendly,
vibrant university town as we explore
mainstream Protestant churches. Com- small-town retirement living. Best retire-
God, however known. Must be eligible for
munity and international mission outreach ment value in the nation. Enjoy the four
privilege of call in the UCC. Please visit
are very important to the congregation, as seasons in a faith-based community offer-
are our youth and adult Christian education ing a full continuum of care. Check us out
programs. The church’s wonderful facilities at <>; e-mail <kjones@
include a nearby 4-bedroom manse. To> or <>;
shared ministry in a 900-member church
apply, e-mail your resume to <search- phone 800/223-9766. Owned and man-
in the midst of a transformation ministry in> or aged by National Church Residences.
Tonawanda, N.Y. We seek an outgoing,
enthusiastic person of faith with strong mail to Search Committee, Glencoe Union
Church, 263 Park Ave, Glencoe, IL 60022. RESOURCES
pastoral skills to share all aspects of min-
istry and worship leadership. This position For our church profile, please visit our IF YOU’RE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING
can be either an associate or co-pastor website <>. with your finances, health or praying
position based on experience, capabili- for a better lifestyle, your prayers can
ties and openness to new programs and be answered by checking out the best
outreach. Inquires can be e-mailed to BULLETIN BOARD home-based business ever. Call Merrily
Rick Pickelhaupt c/o <randbhaupt@aol. at 402/439-2657.
com>. You can also visit the website of our
pastor the Rev. John Tipton at <johntipton. BOUND FOR BOSTON? Stay at historic MENTAL ILLNESS NETWORK — Visit
org>. Our new website under construction Walker Center. Ideal for group accom- our websites: <>
is <>. modations or B&B. Easy commute to and <>; e-mail <
downtown and airport. Phone 617/969-> or <bryancrousore@hotmail.
CAMP DIRECTOR/ADMINISTRATOR 3919; E-mail: <reservations@walkerctr. com>; phone: 866/822-8224, ext. 3838
— Camp Adams, a ministry of the Central org>; web <>. (toll free).
Pacific Conference UCC is looking for a
Camp Director to start March 2009. Please BROADWAY UCC, an Open and Affirming EGIVE-USA.COM — Good stewardship
see the camp website <> Church, welcomes you to New York City made easy! Please call 866.303.6623 or
or call the CPC office at 503/228-3178 and our 5 p.m. Sunday worship at Broad- e-mail us <> for a
for details. Applications will be accepted way and 93rd St. <>. free brochure.
until Dec. 15.
EDUCATION DIRECTOR AND PAS- CENTER — a place of refuge, rest and to empower faith formation ministry
TORAL ASSOCIATE — Bismarck UCC renewal for individuals and small groups in home and church at <faithgrowing.
in North Dakota. Responsibilities for the near the Blue Ridge Mountains. A minis- com>. Download free resources. Pur-
three-quarter-time position include over- try of the Church of the Covenant UCC/ chased materials sent electronically.
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UCC is a vibrant 440-member church with
a commitment to community service and
global mission. Lay and ordained appli-
cants accepted; competitive salary with

on the move | changes | obituaries people

merica’s youth are working to make The Rev. George W. Otto, executive director of the UCC’s Stewardship Council

A 2009 a record year for the Souper

Bowl of Caring, with a national goal
of raising $11 million in cash and cans for
from 1979 to 1992, died Sept. 24. He had led the movement toward a more holistic
view of stewardship where he proclaimed that stewardship “is the care of the
Gospel, of creation, of history and the church.” Otto was a member of Cleveland’s
hunger and poverty-related charities across Archwood UCC. He died after returning from a trip to Colorado, where altitude
the country. had caused physical complications.
Youth will collect one-dollar donations
in large soup pots on or near Feb. 1, 2009.
Each group gives their donation directly to PASTORAL CHANGES
the charity of their choice — no money is
Adams, Katherine M. to First UCC, Billerica, MA
sent to Souper Bowl of Caring headquar-
Arens, M. John to Cong. UCC, New Preston, CT
ters. Organizers simply ask that groups re-
port their collection amount so a national Baldwin, Winston to First Parish UCC, Brunswick, ME
total can be determined. Bartlett, Grace M. to First Cong. UCC, Brewer, ME
“The Souper Bowl of Caring empowers Baskette, Sue M. to St. Paul’s UCC, Herndon, PA
us to take the simple step towards ending Biggar, Cynthia B. to Cong. UCC, Standish, ME
hunger and changing the lives of our neigh- Bing, Eric A. to First Cong. UCC, Newton Falls, OH
bors in need,” said Kara Fleharty, national Bove, Virginia B. to Pelham UCC, Belchertown, MA
youth advisor to the Souper Bowl of Caring Brink, John C. to Union UCC, Dennis, MA
and member of Pilgrim Faith UCC in Oak Dipina, Toni to Hadwen Park UCC, Worcester, MA
Lawn, Ill. Youth from Christ (Myers) UCC in Massillon, Ohio display their Souper Bowl of Dodge, Christopher L. to First Parish UCC, Westwood, MA
To learn more about the event, interest- Caring collection. Faber, Kathy A. to Cong. UCC, Enfield, CT
photo furnished
ed groups can visit <>.
Fiocco, Judy to Evangelical UCC, Boonville, MO
Fung, James A. to Christian UCC, Lihue, HI
Fung, Karl to Chinese Community UCC, Berkeley, CA
Gackenheimer, Ryan to First Cong. UCC, Essex Junction, VT
Gagnon, Alfred J. to First Cong. UCC, Scarborough, ME
Hambrick-Stowe, Charles to First Cong. UCC, Ridgefield, CT
Kuhns, Nancy E. to Nittany Valley Charge, PA
Lepak, Cheryl to Salem Plankroad UCC, Plymouth, WI
Marean, Eric to East UCC, Milton, MA
Marean, Sara to East UCC, Milton, MA
Marlin-Warfield, Mariah to UCC Cong. UCC, Medina, OH
McSherley, Lonny J. to Trinity Reformed UCC, Conover, NC
Noble, Robert to Federated UCC, Castleton, VT
Norris, Sally E. to Federated UCC, East Orleans, MA
Olson, James J. to Center Cong. UCC, Meriden, CT
Schmidt, Valerie to McConnellsburg/Fort Loudon Charge, PA
Steinhard, John B. to St. John’s UCC, Bluffton, OH
Strout, Winfield to interim, St. John’s UCC, Genoa, OH
Thomas, Candace D. to interim, Point Place UCC, Toledo, OH
Towner-Larsen, Susan to Church House, Cleveland, OH
Underhill, Mike to Nexus UCC, Hamilton, OH
Van Houten, Gloria to First Cong. UCC, Sarasota, FL
Voelker, Steven E. to St. John’s UCC, Bucyrus, OH
Wagner, Gretchen to interim, St. John’s UCC, Mansfield, OH
Ward, Fredd to Cong. UCC, Naugatuck, CT
Wendorf, Diane E. to North Parish Cong. UCC, Sanford, ME
Whiting, Pat C. to Union Cong. UCC, Nucla, CO
Whitten, Lora A. to Cong. UCC, Edgerton, WI
Wild, David A. to All Faiths UCC, Ridge Manor, FL
Yetter, Daniel to Trinity UCC, Canton, OH

Pastoral changes are provided by the UCC’s Parish Life and Leadership Ministry.

Anderman, William H., 86, 10/20/2008
Bird, Ray N., 71, 8/28/2008
Beckwith, Hubert S., 86, 10/12/2008
Benedict, Donald L., 91, 9/4/2008
Burditt, Paul H., 84, 10/18/2008
Diaz, Andres R., 75, 9/18/2008
Engel, Austin G., 80, 10/3/2008
Foster, John J., 92, 8/11/2008
Gaskill, R. David, 60, 10/15/2008
Howard, Neil R., 85, 9/16/2008
Knudson, Kalmer N., 79, 8/31/2008
Menchhofer, J. David, 86, 10/29/2008
Morris, Ronald E., 76, 9/21/2008
Nace, Robert K., 85, 8/31/2008
Nuyujukian, Soghomon D., 85, 9/14/2008
Otto, George W., 76, 9/24/2008
Snyder, Roy C., 92, 9/3/2008
Sinclair, Donald K., 92, 10/10/2008
Szigethy, Bela, 97, 8/26/2008
Walker, J. C., 92, 9/21/2008
Wheelock, Robert B., 87, 10/26/2008
White, Arthur F., 91, 9/21/2008

Clergy death information is provided by The Pension Boards.


across the ucc local church mission and ministry

Written by Carol L. Pavlik

TANK CHECK Arizona church humanizes

border, aids migrants
he backdrop of this story begins in January of 1994, when President Clinton

and the leaders of Mexico and Canada signed the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA), creating a trilateral trade bloc between the three countries.
A side-effect of this treaty resulted in the rise in immigrants crossing the
borders between these countries, a situation in which Good Shepherd UCC in
Sahuarita, Ariz., finds itself inextricably involved.
Situated just 45 miles north of the Mexi- are caught in the middle.”
can border, the Rev. Randy Mayer came to Mayer says that all Americans benefit
Good Shepherd in 1998, joining other church- from the work of migrants, “but we have no
es in the area that were already in the midst of idea because the costs and benefits are hid-
conversations about the border. den.” He continues, “We have blinders on,
“In free trade economics, if you’re going thinking we deserve all this; we want our food
to let products and money cross without tar- and vegetables cheap and our houses cleaned.
iffs, then you have to let people cross, as well, Every single American lives a better life be-
to follow the work. That’s just part of the fun- cause of the migrant.”
damental rules of free trade economics,” says In that context, says Mayer, offering a
Volunteers check the water level in one of Humane Borders' fresh water emergency stations in the Sonoran desert Mayer. drink of lifesaving water is the least he can
south of Tucson, Ariz. Gregg Brekke photo But the United States has kept vigilant do.
watch over the border with heightened Border Mayer and his army of volunteers who

Ministry offers hope to

Patrol security, trying to deter the number of work for Humane Borders or for the Green
undocumented migrants passing over the bor- Valley Samaritans — a spin-off group that at-
der. Those efforts were stepped up in a post- tends to food, supplies and medical needs of

migrant workers’ children

9/11 world, where suspicions ran high of un- those stranded in the desert — have to strike a
documented persons entering the country. delicate balance between doing what is right,
The hot, barren desert at the border was and doing what is legal.
seen as being a natural deterrent, but Mayer Four years ago, two Samaritan volunteers
aggard Migrant Ministry has its roots in Plymouth Congregational UCC of and his wife, Norma, were im-

M Coconut Grove, Fla. In 1967, Alvin Maggard and members of the Triune club
hosted their first Christmas dinner for a busload of migrant workers’ children
from South Dade County.
Forty-one years later, the ministry has grown into a full-blown 501(c)(3) organization that
has branched out to educational endeavors as well. Even today, Alvin Maggard and his wife,
mediately concerned by the re-
ports of people getting strand-
ed in the desert, or even dying
because of dehydration.
By 2000, Mayer was part
of an ecumenical group of com-
munity members who gathered
View images by United Church News editor Gregg Brekke, collected
during a 2006 educational trip of the US/Mexico border with Border-
Links, a non-profit organization that conducts travel and education
seminars on U.S./Mexico border issues.

Helen, remain active in the ministry. And the Christmas dinner is still held each year for a to discuss the problem. There
busload of children brought to the church for dinner, singing and gifts. was a resounding agreement
at the end of that meeting, held on Pentecost were picked up and detained by authorities for
The Rev. Thomas Niblock, pastor at up with decent nutrition,” says Niblock. Sunday: There needed to be a humanitarian re- transporting three migrants who were in need
Plymouth, describes the Christmas party: “These parents have the weathered look sponse, and that response, they decided, would of hospitalization.
“We bring 70 or 80 kids up from one of the of centuries of laborers,” says Niblock. “You be water. “We wanted to take death out of the Transporting undocumented migrants
migrant worker camps. They get a good meal see the field workers of a century ago in their immigration equation,” says Mayer. in the United States is against the law. Their
and their teachers come with them,” he says, faces. Yet in their kids, you’re seeing a hope- Before long, the idea of Humane Borders vehicle was confiscated, and the volunteers
adding that the teachers often remember com- ful, young American!” was developed. Mayer remains active in the faced receiving the maximum penalty allowed
ing to the party when they were children. This year, Maggard Migrant Ministries is humanitarian group and was part of the group by law. Just before the federal trial was about
“The kids always get one toy to keep, sponsoring 16 students by paying all or part that put the very first water station in the des- to get under way, the judge dismissed the case
then they get two to take back to the camps of their college tuition. “We work very coop- ert at Rio Rico, Ariz. on the grounds that the volunteers had noti-
and give away. It was a good concept all those eratively with the colleges in the area,” says Today, Humane Borders maintains over fied authorities of their intent to transport the
years ago,” says Niblock. “It allows the kids Niblock. “They stretch the money that we use 90 water stations along the border. Some of injured migrants for emergency medical aid
the joy of giving.” Niblock says the children for scholarships a long way.” these water barrels, says Mayer, distribute 250 only.
received clothing, book bags and school sup- Niblock has seen families ripped apart gallons of water a week during the peak mi- Mayer describes that experience as receiv-
plies in addition to the toys. when the parents are forced to return to Mex- gration season. ing a “get out of jail free card.” Since then, the
Reaching beyond Christmas, the Mag- ico, but their children, who were born in the Getting permits for these 90 stations hap- groups have been careful not to test the limits
gard Migrant Ministry has been providing U.S., are allowed to stay. “Immigration law pened gradually, as the U.S. Border Patrol ini- of the law.
scholarships for migrant children attending issues are so complicated and so threaten- tially discouraged the idea, calling the avail- In the Christmastime tradition of Las
college, another result of Alvin Maggard’s ing, and some of these people [at the migrant ability of water aiding and abetting. “There Posadas (Spanish for “the inns”), there is a
passion and vision for the plight of the mi- worker camps] are undocumented and some were lots of conversations with Border Patrol re-enactment of the classic story of Mary and
grant family. aren’t. It is a real sword that hangs over the that more people would cross knowing there Joseph knocking on door after door and re-
“Alvin Maggard is an unbelievably lives of families, ever-present and danger- was water. But we’ve worked through all ceiving the same answer: No room at the inn.
vigorous guy who still sits on the Mexican ous.” that,” says Mayer in his calm voice. “It is not Each Christmas time, Mayer is reminded
American Council, the only Anglo to do so,” As long as there is a need, Niblock is con- illegal to put water in the desert.” by Las Posadas that our faith sometimes has
Niblock says. “He’s helped the church be a fident his congregation has the desire and re- Still, the mission of providing water at the to lead our decisions. “In our system of law
financial presence, a mission presence, but sources to continue their ministry to migrant border remains controversial. The community and order, we don’t always know what the
also a political presence.” families. “The only wonderful, blessed thing of Sahuarita can often be divided on the issue right thing to do is,” he says. “But from a faith
Each year, Niblock attends the local high that might happen is if the need goes away,” of immigration, and Mayer admits that he’s perspective, we know about hospitality, we
school graduation and witnesses the proud says Niblock. “I don’t see that happening day lost church members over the years because know about the innkeeper who finally opened
look of the migrant workers and their chil- after tomorrow, but I think there’s a possibil- of this ministry. the door and said, ‘You have a place here.’ ”
dren as they receive their diplomas. “In al- ity we may get to a point where we don’t do “It’s pretty intense,” concedes Mayer.
most every case, the parents are a good foot this to people any more.” “There is a push-pull factor. People are forced
or two shorter than the kids, because this is “I know the law is clear,” emphasizes Ni- out of one economy, pulled into another, and
the first generation of kids who have grown block, “but life isn’t.” nobody addresses the root causes. Migrants